Testing utility and durability of the Becker BK-2. Is the BK-2 a good choice for a wilderness survival knife?
The Becker BK-2 Campanion knife manufactured by KA-BAR® is one of blade designer Ethan Becker’s earliest big successes in more ways than one. The BK-2 is a big horse of a knife and it has long been a big seller. In the hands of a skilled outdoorsman, it’s a heavy weight performer for woodcraft–like a big draft horse in the reins of a pioneer plowman breaking new ground.
The hefty BK-2 plows through wood reductions for fuel preparation and shelter materials, and much more. It’s impressive conformance suits it for heavy general utility. It does most things well enough, nothing really, really well. That’s an acceptable functional description of a good wilderness survival knife. The price is right for a lot of knife, too. I bought mine a year ago, shipped to my door for under $75.00.
Big isn’t always best. I’d rather ride a nimble saddle horse all day then wrestle a trail ride out of a cumbersome draft horse. The BK-2 is a draft horse. Weighing in at one pound sans sheath makes it a pounder-class blade. That puts it among small machetes and small hatchets and hawks when considering tools selections. It’s not a casual carry knife, for me, not for most circumstances, anyway. Rather, this is a sturdy tool for a serious wild lands readiness kit carried on wings, on wheels, on skids, or in a boat. And, it’s a good choice for a base camp tool, right beside a good hatchet. Get the particulars on knife dimensions, steel and handle materials at the KA-BAR® BK-2 Page.
“The notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion.” Horace Kephart
A primary cutting instrument for use under challenging survival circumstances or heavy base camp use must not only serve its primary purpose, cutting and chopping efficiently and durably, it must limit stresses on the user. This is where the BK-2 really shines. Becker’s trademark handle is suited for the heavy blade–it suggests a subdued machete handle design that spreads out the stress of forceful chopping and slicing throughout your whole grip. Becker’s forward and aft handle knobs anchor your grip securely like a friendly handshake. The extra large aft handle knob supports your grip during forceful chopping, but its slightly more angular shape is unfriendly when you choke back on the handle for more chopping power, it’s a blister-maker. Wear gloves.
Personally and professionally, I look for blade function more than aesthetics. Early in the 1980’s, and since, with the proliferation of extravagant fantasy knife designs that express the artistic flare of their individual designers at the cost of functional utility, and rarely leave the collector’s cabinet (i.e., a teenager’s junk drawer): Ethan Becker pursued a different path, developing functional aesthetics–joining flesh and heavy metal in purpose-driven design. Becker’s knives get squirreled away in collectors’ cabinets like others, but I’d wager that the greater percentage see heavy use or are important elements of kits for readiness when purchased by true outdoorsmen. The BK-2 is a knife you just want to drive through wood.
Ethan Becker pursued a different path, developing functional aesthetics–joining flesh and heavy metal in purpose-driven design.
My factory sharp BK-2 cut into my small woodlot to field test the knife for function and durability and to do a little TSI (Timber Stand Improvement). I felled the three-inch-plus gnarly red maple sapling in the images, cut it into three sections and carved a baton from one section. I also pounded the BK-2 through some firewood reduction tasks to get a bed of hot coals going for my next task, making and heat treating a serious splitting wedge!
A wedge is a proper tool for splitting large diameter limbs. The BK2 is a brute, but you don’t test the limits of your primary survival tool when you need it most. Instead, you leverage its power by using it to make additional tools. Basic day one wilderness survival tools & tasks: baton, wedge, digging stick, feather sticks & fuel reductions, shelter materials. Protect your blade and its sharp edge for later use: deadfall triggers, collecting plant fibers and vines, sharpening a spear, making a gig, and so on…
A good wilderness survival knife selected for inclusion in remote area readiness kits must be factory sharp and hold its edge through initial bivouac challenges. The BK-2 is an excellent emergency bivouac tool and a fun base camp tool, and much more…
If I found myself trapped in a crumpled bush plane in Alaska’s Brooks Range, smoke filling the cabin, I’d reach for my BK-2 to cut and pry my way out!
Yes, The BK-2 is an excellent wilderness survival tool!
The BK-2 is our pick for a gap filler. We will include the BK-2 in moderate-sized readiness kits for conveyance carry.
I like my BK-2 just for basic campfire use!
Tom Bain, Outdoor Readiness